It was announced today that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will undergo back surgery tomorrow, after suffering an injury to his back just seven plays into last week’s match-up against the New York Jets. There has been a wide speculation on the amount of time the superstar TE will miss, with reports ranging from two months to the remainder of the season. WBZ Sports reporter Steve Burton even brought up the possibility of this being career threatening.
Gronkowski has earned the label “injury-prone” by missing 18 games in his seven year career. In 2012, he broke his forearm which resulted in six missed regular season games. In a game against the Browns in 2013, he suffered a torn ACL that required him to miss the remainder of the season. Against Denver last season, Gronkowski received a hit from safety Darian Stewart that caused him to miss one game. This year, Gronk missed the first two games of the season due to a hamstring injury that he suffered in the off-season. The following two games he was ineffective as he tried to regain his strength. Just a couple weeks ago, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas delivered a hit that reportedly punctured Gronkowski’s lung. He continued to play, but he missed the following week against San Francisco.
The back injury is one of the most concerning, because this is what held him back from being a high draft pick in 2010. He missed 13 games in his final season at Arizona due to complications with a back strain.
This injury has a lot of Patriots’ fan questioning the value of Rob Gronkowski. The team has been known to make moves in the best interest of the team, and considering how often the TE is sidelined, it has been floated around if New England would be interested in trading him. There have been questions about his contract this season, and I could certainly see a scenario where the Patriots move on from Gronkowski, but I won’t be happy about it.
Just think of it this way. Gronkowski has missed 18 regular season games in his career. In those seven season, he leads the league with 68 receiving touchdowns during that time. He missed more than entire season’s worth of time, and HE STILL LEADS THE LEAGUE IN RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS. There is no question that Gronk is valuable on the field. The question becomes, is it worth it to make him the highest paid TE in the league in his next deal if he is always a concern to miss multiple games a season.
From the Patriots angle for the remainder of the season, they are set up better than they have ever been for a stretch without one of the most dominant tight ends to ever grace the gridiron. Martellus Bennett has been productive in games without Gronk, but those games were all with Garoppolo/Brissett under center. Not to mention, Bennett has clearly been working through an ankle injury. Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell add two capable weapons to Tom Brady’s arsenal. Mitchell has proven that he is an NFL-caliber WR over the past few weeks and will be counted on to come up big down the stretch.
Also, be on the lookout for continued big games from the RB’s. Lewis has looked good in his short time back, and combined with James White and LeGarette Blount, this group is more the capable of pushing the Patriots to a playoff run. By then, maybe Gronk’s even back.